You’re bored at work or standing in line at a store, you basically have a few minutes to kill. So you pull out your phone and open Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
After passing a few posts about people complaining about others or a cluster of pictures of inspirational quotes or funny pictures found on the web, you stumble on a post about someone’s fabulous life.
Even though, that’s not really what they said, at least not in so many words. You interpret the post to say that and only that.
As the holidays passed you probably noticed just about all of your ‘friends’ posting pics and status updates about the gifts they received. Gushing about how much they love and enjoy them. You would think that they got exactly everything they asked for and their life is made more fabulous because of it.
Then you think of the things that you got, or better yet what you didn’t get. You start comparing their perceived happiness and yours, the gifts they got and the ones you wanted that are still at the store, and finally how much better their life is and yours sucks.
The newest social media outlets can cause social comparisons among friends (and strangers really) leaving you disgruntled and depressed.
Even if you’re seemly content with your life in general, going through your news feed can a spark social rivalry that you didn’t notice existed.
Constant status and picture uploads illustrating the details of people’s lives, regardless of accuracy, can make you feel slighted by the universe. Coupled with social media’s addictive nature, you could be putting yourself if a pretty bad place.
In a matter of minutes you become jealous and bitter. Often you’re unable to move on to the next post because the current one has consumed you. And when you finally do, the thoughts of the previous post still linger in your head, eating you up.
You begin to realize everything in your life sucks. All the good things have already happened to someone else. You can’t enjoy anything in your life because there is nothing to enjoy, it sucks in comparison.
Two old high school friends just bought new cars and you’ve been riding around in the same clunker for years. Never mind that you’re saving for a house, which was once more important to you.
Now you have the intense urge to head to the dealership and throw your plans away just to keep up, to feel good.
Ultimately you are unable to achieve more because you’re too busy being miserable. You’re ongoing lack of similar achievements and their constant bragging of theirs just adds fuel to an uncontrollable fire.
Life is easier and pleasant when you can actually enjoy it. Comparing achievements and assets take the joy out of experiencing personal successes.
1. Life is Not a Game
Of course there are times when competition is healthy. Playing some video games and sports are good examples of healthy competition. A friendly challenge can even be fun while sharpening some skills. While games are designed to have one party come out on top, in comparing lifestyles there is no winner.
Homes should be purchased to provide shelter and solace for your family, not to compete to see who has the bigger and better house.
Let’s say your friend’s apartment is better than the cot in your parent’s basement. How does that make you feel, like crap I bet? Now turn it around, the house you just closed on is way more spacious than your friend’s apartment and he knows it because you can’t stop comparing the two.
Now your friend is bitter and upset with you for shoving it in their face. It’s really a no win situation. If your goal is to make your friends mad, then soon you won’t have any.
Whether you’re sleeping in the master bedroom or what you call the dungeon you should be happy you both have shelter. Instead of focusing on how each compares to the other, concentrate on the fact that both your needs are met.
You connected with these people because you had something in common, whether it be a single experience or a number of years of friendship. Networks are about building relationships and nourishing friendships, not measuring achievements.
2. Stop Playing
If you’re friends have a tendency to brag and show off, ignore their comments and move on to something more meaningful. You can change the subject completely or keep it in the same area just change the focus.
Like when someone posts a bunch of pictures of their dashboard showing the exterior temperature display, you can joke about how they no longer need The Weather Channel. This takes the focus of the cool, modern feature they’re letting everyone know they have.
In person, that can even be a good way to transition the conversation to the forecast or upcoming outdoor adventure instead. You can also redirect the attention to commonalities when competition arises.
Social rivalry can change the whole dynamic of a relationship. Regular participation will result in you rooting again your friends.
While everyone else is complimenting them on achieving their dream, you’ll bypass the Facebook post without commenting out of frustration. You shouldn’t be happy or smile at your friends’ misfortune.
Think about the movie The Lion King. Mufasa and Scar were brothers, while Mufasa’s feelings about his sibling were indifferent. With Scar the feeling was not mutual.
He was jealous of his brother being king and wanted nothing more than to snatch the crown from his head. His envy became fatal. He should’ve been happy for his brother and appreciate his position in the kingdom. Instead he focused on the one-sided rivalry and same way he got the crown was the same way he lost it.
Constantly comparing yourself with others causes you to hoard negative energy. Instead of maintaining supportive relationships, your only interest is to put them down. Be kind to your friends and grateful that you have them.
You might have a friend that you only keep tabs on for comparison but regardless of how your relationship began you can still turn it around it make it a more meaningful one.
3. Game Over
If you find yourself getting upset or jealous over another person’s posts, than take a social media break. It’s time to close the app and focus on something else entirely.
Don’t focus on what they have and what you don’t. Take that opportunity to discover what it is you want, what would make you happy and start working on that.
When you begin to achieve your own goals you’ll finally be able to enjoy your life as it is. You’ll be able to acknowledge that it isn’t perfect but it’s getting there. Then you’ll be able to engage in social media without ill feelings.
Everyone has a different definition of success. Some people are happy with less, while others need something else. Although their achievements can be very different, they can both be equally happy because there is no competition when it comes to individual goals.
You can be happier for your friends, and enjoy your life, when you don’t feel like you have to keep up with them. Focus on what you both have in common and that your needs and goals are being met and you’ll both come out on top.
Are you comparing yourself to others? How do you feel after seeing people show off on FB, Instagram or Twitter?